Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Grujic Cut from UFC

With a click of a mouse button Vik Grujic realised he was unemployed,.

On June 2 Grujic got an email from Joe Silva (UFC matchmaker) saying he had been cut from the fighters’ roster.

Grujic was integral in pushing the Victorian government to overturn the ban on cage fighting. When the Labour government abolished the ban Grujic hoped for a spot on the UFC 193 card, to be run at Etihad Stadium on November 15.

All that is now gone.

Grujic says he feels “gutted,” but the cold, hard facts are that combat sport does not tolerate failure.

Fighters are a commodity – pure and simple. Their value increases with each win and decreases with each loss. Plus the physical damage they sustain with each defeat makes each subsequent bout even risker.

The organisation has a duty of care to fighters. This includes not over-matching them and not exposing them to potential long term health risks from accumulated damage sustained in the ring.

Still, that doesn’t make it any easier for a dropped fighter.

Grujic leaves the UFC with a 7-5-0 record, having lost his last two fights (two consecutive losses is usually all that is needed to be cut).

During his tenure with the organisation Grujik says he amassed less money than you might think. “I probably could have made more money by working at McDonald’s, to be quite honest (he laughed) … But my wife, Rita, believed in me.”

Despite losing his last two fights Grujic believes he is on the verge of success.

He has recently had surgery on his nose to clear his airways. Something, he says, that will improve his cardio.

“I’ve spent my entire fighting career basically not being able to breathe through my nose. That surgery is going to do wonders for my cardio and I hope to get back up and bounce back and hopefully get a fight in the next coup[le of months with one of the larger organisations overseas or, fingers crossed, the UFC has a change of heart – though that’s unlikely.

“I’ve been in talks with a management team over in the States. They’ve been helping me out and looking to find me a new home with another organisation. I’ve gotta weigh up what the options are for me next.

“It’s tough times at the moment, very tough.”

Grujic has had to sell much of his UFC memorabilia on ebay to pay his medical and training expenses.

Daley Tells Blues to Fire-Up

Laurie Daley image:

New South Wales Blues coach Laurie Daley has said his side intends to be more ‘aggressive’ in Wednesday night’s must-win match against the Maroons.

The Blues side have made no secret of the fact they intend to niggle and intimidate the Queenslanders.

Blues playmaker Robbie Farah believed his side were ‘too clean’ in the first match and were unable to put the other side off their game.

Queensland Coach Mal Meninga shrugged off the talk. “Bring it on,” he said. “That’s good. We have prepared for  it all week – that’s what Origin is all aobut.,

“You need that attitude and character, that aggressive outlook and mindset to play Origin footy – that’s why it is so great. If that’s the case, we have prepared for it.”

When asked about the intended aggressive tactics of the New South Welshmen Meninga said, “I think NSW play with a fairly aggressive mindset … We want to be successful and we will do whatever is needed to win.”

Rain is expected on Wednesday night, which means the game may be dirty in more ways than one.

Laurie Daley said Origin was unpredictable at best, but the rain throws another random element into the mix. He believes his side will be able to rise to the challenge and win in front of what is expected to be a hostile Melbourne crowd

His hopes were buoyed by the injury of Maroons play-maker Cooper Cronk. Last year the Blues won both games where Cronk was absent.

The unpopular Daly Cheery-Evans is set to replace Cronk.

The Hidden Side of Professional Boxing

Laight losing image:

In boxing parlance they’re known as Journeymen. They are fighters skilled enough to protect themselves, brave enough to fight anyone, and tough enough to take a beating – but they also must pose little to no threat to anyone.

There’s a little known side to boxing – One in which fight promoters need their ‘prospects’ given experience without the risk of being beaten up.

Enter the Journeyman.

Kristian Laight is one of the most well-known journeymen in professional boxing. Since beginning his career at the Britannia International Hotel in London in November of 2003, he has fought an amazing 215 times.

Among boxers Laight’s record is deplorable, but among professional Journeymen Laight is a legend. The 34 year-old boasts a record of 9-199-7! That’s 199 losses!

Laight is even so well known as a Journeyman he was given his own chapter in a recently released book Journeymen: The Other Side of the Boxing Business.

Laight said he never planned for his career to go the way it has. Like any new boxer he dreamed of being another champion.

“I thought I could actually do something, you know, be some sort of champion,” he said on BBC. “It dawned on me, probably after the fifth fight, I wasn’t going to be a champion, that’s for sure.”

Journeymen occupy a very necessary niche in professional boxing. And their defensive skills make them, in their own way, champions.

Laight v Stalker image

Laight v Stalker image

“I just go in and look after myself, do my job to get through the fight, and reach that final bell in one piece, get my money, come home, and have to fight again the week after It’s a month’s wages for most people, for 12 minutes work.”

But Laight is risking serious injury every time he steps into the ring.

His opponents are usually totally unknown to him. He has to be able protect himself against anyone, entertain the crowd, give his opponent some kind of test, all while not ending the ‘prospect’s’ career with a crushing defeat.

Oh, and Laight has to be ready to fight at a moment’s notice

“One time I’d literally just gone to the pub, my phone’s gone and before I’ve had a sip of my pint my manager’s said ‘You’ve got a fight later on; get out of the pub’ You’ve always go to be ready because the phone could go at any time.”

Watmough fails to Fire for Eels

Eels Watmough:

Eels fans are rightly agitated after the club spent up big on Anthony Watmough.

Watmough has failed to deliver since leaving the Manly Sea Eagles. On Friday night he posted his worst game to date: Running for only 53 meters, missing five tackles, and playing only a little over half the match (44 minutes).

In fact, Watmough hasn’t made a line-break since joining the Eels.

This is a far-cry from the same time last year when ‘Choc’ was rampaging through the Maroons defensive line in the State of Origin series.

Watmough is claiming a series of injuries are hamstringing his ability to perform on the field.

Blues Watmough image:

Blues Watmough image:

But in a bizarre Catch-22 Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has no choice but to keep sending him out.

Because of the salary cap, and the big money spent on Watmough, Arthur has no one else to send on to replace him.

The best both of them can hope for is the round 15 bye which will give the second-rower a much needed break from competitive football.

Just how much the team physios and doctors can do in a fortnight remains to be seen. But as it stands now buying Watmough from the Sea Eagles hasn’t repaid the Parramatta club.

Blues Back from Injury as Maroons Lose Cronk

Cooper Cronk image:

Gallen, Morris, and Farah have been passed fit for the Blues Origin squad. This allows Llows coach Laurie Daley to field his first choice of players in every position.

The news for queensland, however, is not so good; with playmaker cooper cronk being ruled out with a low-grade tear to the meniscus in his right knee.

Cronk will undergo surgery for the tear and be sidelined for three to four weeks.

Maroons coach Mal Meninga says Cronk is desolate at missing the second Origin match, which was to be played in front of his home crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

“He is disappointed in the fact he is going to miss it,” said Coach Meninga. “He will work damn hard and he will be back for Game Three let’s hop.

“It’s a huge loss to us. In temrns of the way he manages the game and around the group. You know we are goig to miss him.”

And Mal Meninga isn’t overstating one bit. The Smith-Slater-Cronk combination has proved a success at all levels of football. These three grew up playing football together and occupy the most important positions on the field.

It’s no surprise that Queensland lost the two Origin matches without him last year, while winning when the combination was intact.

Cadel Evans Looking to Revitalise Australian Cycling

Cadel evans image:

Cadel Evans is trying to restructure cycling in Australia. He is aghast at the current lack of Aussies able to compete for titles in the grand tours.

Evans is the only Australian ever to win the coveted Gold Jersey at the Tour de France. He credits much of his ability to do this to the combination of mountain biking and road racing.

Evans believes that improving the links between these two sports well lead to improvements in the results of the next generation of Australian competitive cyclists.

“Cycling in Australia is not really favourable for bringing in the climbers. All of our racing is more suited to rouleurs and sprinters,” said Evans. “That’s why we have a lot of good time-trialists and sprinters, because of the type of racing at the grassroots level. Which is why I’m so grateful to the sport of mountain biking.”

Evans began his professional career in mountain biking. He won two cross country world cup gold medals before moving to competitive road cycling.

“Mountain biking is such an important part of cycling overall because it draws on a different type of physique.

“This physique that’s well suited to riding cross-country mountain bike races can also be very well suited to the physique you need to be a Tour de France contender. People need to realise this.

“We don’t have races at the junior level that are suited to these kinds of riders – with a physique like mine – and they can possibly be discouraged from a young age, from staying in the sport.

“If we have more facilities for mountain bikers we can help them develop more.”

NSW Blues Injury List Lessens

Laurie Daley image:

Paul Gallen, Brett Morris, and Robbie Farah are expected to be cleared from injury and available for Blues selection.

For Coach Laurie Daley their convalescence couldn’t have come a t a better time.

The Blues meet the Maroons at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 17 for a must-win second Origin match. This is the first match to be held at the MCG since 1997, and ticket sales have been somewhat sluggish.

Daley has until 7:45am on Tuesday to name his squad and he is keenly awaiting the fitness reports of his most experienced players: Gallen, Morris and Farah.

Gallen was cleared to play for Cronulla yesterday against the Sydney City Roosters. Boyd Cordner is expected to be dropped to make way for the incumbent Captain. While winger Daniel Tupou is pegged to be relegated to make way for Morris.

Robbie Farah, however, is another story.

Farah braved the Origin I battle field, returning after receiving painkilling injections for a grade three AC shoulder joint injury in the first half. Since the game, Farah has spent every waking moment undergoing rehabilitation.

Despite the severity of the injury Farah remains confident of his chances to play..

But Coach Daley has said he wants all 17 of his squad ready to train on the day they are named.

Sharks hooker (and one of the biggest divers in the game) Michael Ennis is expected to replace Farah, should the vice-captain be unavailable through injury.

The Blues will go into camp the day the squad is named.

Mark Hunt Still a Threat to Heavyweight Division


UFC Heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez, is on the sidelines when it comes to naming adopted Aussie Mark Hunt as a title contender..

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph Velasquez said from Mexico that Hunt’s next fight should be telling.

Hunt has now lost consecutive fights, for the first time in hhis career. The 41 year-old lost a bout to Fabricio Werdum back in November after taking the fight on short notice. More recently he lost a one-sided event against Croatian giant Stipe Miocic.

But Velasquez isn’t ready to call Hunt’s career over just yet.

When asked about Hunt’s fight against Werdum Velasquez said, “But I thought Mark was winning that fight.

“Yes, he got caught by a knee, but being made to take the fight on such short nhotice, it didn’t help. If Mark had been given a full preparation things might have been very different.

“But as they say, you’re only as good as your last fight.”

Mark Hunt has earned the respect of the entire MMA community. His toughness, courage, and devastating punching power has shown he is a real threat to the heavyweight division and the incumbent champion.

And Velasquez knows this. “Mark has come back before,”” he said. “And you look at Andrei Arlovski … there’s a guy who was out of it and has really come baclk.”

So perhaps you’re not as god as your last fight? Perhaps you’re as good as your next one?

Cherry-Evans to Stay with Manly


The NRL community has reacted with alarm at Manly play-maker Daly Cherry-Evans’ decision to renege on his deal to join the Gold Coast Titans.

 As Manly fans rejoice in the return of their prodigal son questions are being asked about the reliability of the utility. These questions extended to his fitness as a possible Captain of the club and Maroons sides.

Anyone who can break their word with such ease is not a man likely to inspire trust in his team.

Queensland and especially Gold Coast fans are rightly put-out. Queensland great Darren Lockyer was an outspoken critic of the backflip saying, “ When I was handed the Broncos captaincy in  2005, and eventually the Origin and Test jobs, I learnt the sign of a good leader is their strength.

“When a leader says he is going to do something, his word is his bond. He backs up his words with his actions.”

Cherry-Evans has said that he was unaware of the specifics being negotiated by his managers, and therefore refuses to admit he mislead any club.

“Any dealings (my management) may have been doing was with me not knowing – and that’s how I wanted it. I didn’t want to know if tere was something going on behind the scenes.

“I just wanted to worry about what I had committed to at the time and playing good footyball.

“I’m not going to deny there would have been work going on behind the scenes to get a deal. But I kept it at arm’s length and I wasn’t given a deal until the last 48 hours.”

Not everyone agrees with Cherry-Evans plea of ignorance.

Gordon Tallis, an ambassador for the Gold Coast Titans, felt Cherry-Evans had made a commitment with his words.

“I am disappointed, that is just as a Queenslander and as a fan,” said Tallis.

“A Captain has to be a man of principle I believe. If you look back at all the great leaders, from Wally (Lewis) to Mal (Meninga), what they have done for Queensland.

“Wally (even) turned his back on a career down in NSW for Queensland Rugby League, because it would have folded without him.”

Tallis’s appears to be applying a bit of a double-standard to Cherry-Evans.

St George-Illawara fans will remember Tallis choosing to sit on the bench for the 1994 season because the club refused to release him from his contract. Tallis wanted to leave the Saints to join the Broncos, and sought an early release. But the club were loath to lose the second row Raging Bull.

So Gordon fulfilled the letter, but not the spirit, of his contract by staying at the club, but refusing to play.

And yet Tallis went on to captain the Broncos, Maroons, and Australian sides.

Daley Seeks Meeting With Referees Ahead of Origin Two

Laurie Daley image:

New South Wales Blues Coach Laurie Daley is requesting a meeting with referees boss Tony Archer to complain about Queensland’s bullying tactics in Origin Game One.

Daley believes his side was ambushed by the rough play dished out by the Queenslanders and believes the Maroons should have been penalised more than they were.

NSW officials believe there were five incidents of illegal hits which went penalised.


Daley’s whinging has drawn ire from both sides of the border. Even Blues legend Chris ‘Choppy’ Close blasted the coach: “If you can’t stand the heat then get out of the kitchen,” was Close’s response.

“Please,” said a clearly exasperated Close, “this is State of Origin. This is bloody rugby league.

“Mal Meninga nearly killed Michael O’Connor (1991, Game Three).

“They need to get their hands off it.”


Laurie Daley seems to have conveniently forgotten that Billy Slater’s nagging shoulder injury is the result of a Beau Scott cheap shot during last year’s series.

He seems to have forgotten that the Blues have a well-documented history of having the best divers in the game (Ennis, Bird, Watmough etc).

Daley seems to have forgotten rugby league is a contact sport! All the more so at Origin level which is the highest standard of football on the planet.

He seems to have forgotten all about Andrew Fifita’s Chicken Wing tackle on Will Chambers.

Instead Daley is seeking to have a new interpretation of the rules implemented before he picks his side for Origin Two.

Why not make it a touch football contest while you’re at it Laurie?